BAI Communications (BAI) was proud to recently announce its partnership with Transport for London (TfL) for a 20-year contract to develop connectivity solutions that will have a transformational impact on citizens and visitors who are living, working, and playing in the great city of London. Group CEO Igor Leprince discusses what it means to be establishing London’s backbone of 5G ready connectivity.
With the largest and most advanced infrastructure project of its type in the world now being built by BAI, London’s citizens will be able to enjoy uninterrupted mobile coverage across the London Underground once complete. This historic development will help deliver the Mayor of London’s ambition to improve digital connectivity across the capital and make it the best-connected city in Europe, contributing towards London’s smart city development.
Through this project, BAI will establish a city-wide integrated communications network delivering multi-carrier cellular, Wi-Fi, and fibre connectivity services, with all stations and tunnels to have mobile coverage by the end of 2024. The project’s first phase will see BAI roll out modern multi-carrier infrastructure that will allow mobile operators to immediately provide continuous 4G coverage to their customers across the London Underground.
Additionally, the new city-wide high-capacity fibre network will enable fibre service providers to supply full fibre connectivity to premises across the city benefiting hundreds of thousands of people and businesses. BAI will use the transport system to connect buildings, traffic lights, and lamp posts housing small cells that will leverage the power of 5G to, for example, improve pollution monitoring as well as manage traffic congestion, public safety, and city planning.
Furthermore, BAI will help to create a safer, smarter London by building and operating critical communications infrastructure that will support police, fire, and ambulance services. The project will not only help to transform the city’s economy, it will also provide social benefits by delivering seamless, 5G ready connectivity that will enable people to move around London more smartly, safely, and securely.
Over the last 12 months, the isolation and distancing necessary to deal with the global pandemic has forever changed the way that people live and work. Strong, reliable connectivity is more important than ever to be able to maintain productivity in any city and ensure that its people are connected in every meaning of the word.
In practical terms for London, a city that citizens and visitors enjoy exploring, the passenger experience will be transformed in every part of the London Underground. Passengers will be able to travel around London more efficiently and safely, accessing the technology they need while travelling.
They will be able to check the city’s latest travel and safety information and use travel time to attend to work or personal calls, emails, social media, games, podcasts and videos, or the latest news uninterrupted during their journeys. Travel time will not only feel different, it will also be different due to the productivity and entertainment capacity this will generate for people in the thriving hub of the society that is London.
BAI’s extensive credentials delivering large-scale connected infrastructure and networking solutions position it perfectly to support mobile operators to deliver technological innovation and capitalise on the fast-growing commercial appeal of 5G solutions and smart city applications.
To deliver this project, BAI will create hundreds of new job opportunities in London across various disciplines. It is an enormous undertaking, and not least of all because it is taking place in what is well known as the oldest underground in the world, and probably the most iconic. It will take 5 million hours of work over the next four years with 600 people at any one time building a network that requires 2,000 kilometres of cabling and is supported by nine data centres across London.
This project will certainly benefit from BAI’s our extensive experience and expertise in designing, building, and operating these networks in incredibly difficult environments and delivering 5G solutions and use cases. However, in addition to our neutral host services, BAI’s data engineering capabilities will help TfL maximise the opportunities that 5G offers to extend IoT, AI, and cutting-edge data analytics capability to build the stations, private networks, and cities of the future.
Importantly, as the project evolves, BAI will continue exploring and innovating the technology advancements required to fast-track smart city evolution, such as autonomous vehicles and connected intermodal transport. It’s important for us to continue striving to have the most advanced networks in the world to remain relevant to TfL throughout our 20-year relationship and beyond.